Politician Wants to Ban Gendered Toys at Fast Food Restaurants

Does being a boy or girl matter when getting a kid's meal?
mcdonalds happy meals mcdonald's

Should gender matter when ordering fast food children’s meals? For a Michigan politician who wants to ban “girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys” from McDonald’s Happy Meals and Burger King King Jr. Meals for kids, the answer is no. According to USA Today, Michigan state Rep. Leslie Love, a Democrat, recently introduced a state resolution that asks fast food restaurants not to use gender as the determining factor in which toy a child receives.

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“This is a significant issue, as billions of these meals are sold every year and this practice can influence and limit children’s imaginations and interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls and others only for boys,” the non-binding resolution states.

According to USA Today, Love was inspired by her own experiences as a mother taking her own children out to eat to sponsor the fast food legislation. “I just want you to give me a toy, whether it’s a Power Range or a My Little Pony,” she told the paper. “We would never want to gender-identify careers, but we still do it with our toys.”

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McDonald's Happy Meal toys

McDonald's has already adopted gender-neutral toy practices in the U.K., according to Megan Perryman of U.K. campaign Let Toys Be Toys. “It seems tiny — being told that a toy is not for you — but the thousands of tiny messages add up to have a significant impact on what that child believes is possible for them,” she told The Daily Meal. “We’re pleased to say that large retailers such as McDonald’s have offered one toy option for a long time now in the U.K. and children are perfectly happy. There is no such thing as a boys’ toy or a girls’ toy; there are just toys.”

“We are committed to giving our guests the best possible experience in all our restaurants, including the toys and promotions we offer to our youngest guests.  Of course, we will always make sure our experience reflects the latest regulations established in each jurisdiction," a representative for Burger King said in a statement.

In 2017, gender-specific Happy Meals caused an uproar when mom Imogene Louise complained about them on McDonald’s New Zealand’s Facebook page. Louise was outraged that her daughter, who’s a fan of cars, trucks and bucks, would automatically be given the toy earmarked for girls. “I can guarantee if she was given the choice of a toy vehicle or a Barbie doll, the vehicle would win 9 times out of 10,” she wrote. Her post garnered over 3,500 comments.

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A McDonald’s spokesperson said at the time, “We're using this as an opportunity to look at how we ask customers what option they would like. We’re also working with our toy suppliers to look at options going forward.” While this resolution is pending, it’s good to know if you’re taking your kids to eat while shopping during the holiday season, the chain's meals now have healthier options. And that's just another way fast food has changed since you were in high school.